My Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    Twenty

    3 inch cookies

Appears in

Oven Temperature 325°F/160°C for the walnuts; 375°F/190°C for the cookies

Baking Time 7 minutes for the walnuts; 10 to 12 minutes for the cookies for each of two batches

Readers have long been asking me for my version of the chocolate chip cookie, but I always wondered how I could possibly improve on this classic. After much thought, finally I did indeed find a way.

In France, the financier, or ingot, is the fingerprint of the pastry chef. In the United States, however, the cookie that can make a pastry chef’s reputation is indisputably the chocolate chip cookie. Chocolate chip cookies vary from baker to baker in the proportion of ingredients chosen, the quality of these ingredients, and how the cookies are shaped and baked. My new version is crisp, chewy, and also lactose free if you do not add the browned milk solids. The two most important factors that contribute to its flavor and texture are decreasing the usual amount of sugar and browning the butter—an extra step that offers an amazingly delicious taste and evaporates the water contained in the butter for a firmer cookie. I toast the walnuts lightly to enhance their flavor and remove as much of the bitter peel as possible. I have also reduced the salt for a better balance. Although great with conventional light brown sugar, to make this cookie extra special I use Muscovado light brown sugar from India Tree.

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Plan Ahead For the best flavor and texture, make the cookie dough 12 to 24 hours ahead of baking.

Ingredients

Cookie Dough

Makes 22.9 ounces/648 grams

VOLUME WEIGHT
unsalted butter 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) 4.5 ounces 127 grams
walnut halves ¾ cup 2.6 ounces 75 grams
bleached all-purpose flour 1⅓ cups (lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off) 5.7 ounces 161 grams
baking soda ½ teaspoon . 2.7 grams
fine sea salt ¼ teaspoon . 1.5 grams
light brown Muscovado sugar, or dark brown sugar ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons, firmly packed 2.9 ounces 81 grams
granulated sugar 2 tablespoons 0.9 ounce 25 grams
1 large egg 3 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon (47 ml) 1.8 ounces 50 grams
pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon (5 ml) . .
bittersweet chocolate chips, 55% to 63% cacao (see Note) 1 cup 6 ounces 170 grams

Special Equipment

Two 15 by 12 inch cookie sheets, no preparation needed or lined with parchment

Method

Preheat the Oven

Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C.

Clarify and Brown the Butter

Beurre Noisette

Have ready a fine-mesh or cheesecloth-lined strainer suspended over a 1 cup glass measure with a spout.

In a small heavy saucepan over very low heat, melt the butter. Raise the heat to low and cook, uncovered, watching carefully to prevent burning. Move away any foam on the surface to check the progress. As soon as the milk solids become a deep brown, immediately pour the butter through the strainer into the glass measure, scraping the solids into the strainer.

Measure or weigh 7 tablespoons/104 ml/3 ounces/84 grams of the butter and add the browned solids to it. Let it cool to below 80°F/27°C.

Toast and Chop the Walnuts

Spread the walnuts evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes to enhance their flavor. Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid overbrowning. Turn the walnuts onto a clean dish towel and roll and rub them around to loosen the skins. Coarsely break the walnuts, scraping off and discarding as much of the skins as possible. Cool completely and coarsely chop the walnuts.

If baking the cookies shortly after making the dough, raise the oven temperature to 375°F/190°C.

Mix the Dry Ingredients

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Make the Dough

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the clarified butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg, and vanilla on low speed for 1 minute.

Add the flour mixture. Start on the lowest speed to moisten the flour. Raise the speed to low and beat for 30 seconds. Add the chocolate chips and walnuts and beat on low speed just until evenly incorporated.

Divide the dough in half, about 11.4 ounces/324 grams each. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate. The cookies can be shaped and baked after 30 minutes of chilling, but the baked cookies will be slightly smaller, softer, and more rounded. For flatter, crisper 3 inch cookies, chill the dough for a minimum of 12 hours or up to 24 hours. Remove the dough for each batch about 10 minutes before rolling to make it malleable.

Roll the Dough into Balls

Scoop out 10 heaping tablespoons of dough (1.1 ounces/31 grams each). Roll each piece of dough between the palms of your hands into a 1½ inch ball. Set the dough balls a minimum of 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet and press them down to about 2 inches wide by ½ inch high.

Bake the Cookies

Bake for 5 minutes. For even baking, rotate the cookie sheet halfway around. Continue baking for 5 to 7 minutes. The cookies should be brown around the edges, just beginning to brown on the tops, and still feel slightly soft when pressed lightly with a fingertip.

Cool the Cookies

Set the cookie sheet on a wire rack and let the cookies cool for 1 minute so that they will be firm enough to transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Use a pancake turner to lift the cookies onto another wire rack. They will firm up as they cool and are most delicious when eaten slightly warm.

While the first batch of cookies is baking, shape the dough for the second batch.

Store

Airtight: room temperature, 2 weeks; refrigerated, 1 month; frozen, 3 months.

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